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  • Writer's pictureMike Sedam

Human Behavior - The Force That Surrounds "Normal" Safety Training

Required safety training comes from many sources. There are legal requirements, company requirements, and industry requirements regarding safety training. Issues such as emergency procedures, injury prevention, fire prevention, equipment use, personal protective equipment, and hazardous materials are just some of the technical issues that must be addressed.

There is no question that the rules, processes, and preventive measures covered in such training are vastly important. That is why such training is regulated and provided to professionals in the fields of construction, manufacturing, aviation, energy, mining, transportation, and other risky complex industries. The technical skills and knowledge required of these professionals is absolutely paramount to managing risk and getting the job done.

As vastly different as these professions may be, there is one thing that is unquestionable. We need people to get the job done and the human element is the glue that holds all the pieces together. This is where training in human behavior and human performance becomes extremely valuable.

People look through different lenses when they are making judgments about the world around them. What is occurring at the time can be seen differently by two people sitting directly next to each other. It is the perception that can control how a person may respond. In addition to perception, human behavior is driven very strongly by the interaction people have with each other. People can behave differently based on the groups they belong to, expectations of the group, culture that exists at the organizational level, behavioral norms that exist between two people, and any number of other factors that affect risk tolerance.

Human behavior is a little like the “force” in Star Wars. While speaking to Luke Skywalker, Yoda said, “you must feel the force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.” All of the technical training we receive in evacuation procedures, fire prevention, personal protective equipment, chemical storage and spill techniques, and use of equipment is surrounded by a softer, less visible, but highly important concept: human behavior. In order for us to understand how people can behave, we need to understand what drives them. This is where applied concepts and tools pertaining to human behavior become so important.

Value is added to any group when people understand how and why they might perceive risk in a certain way and behave based on that perception. It helps people see that many factors can raise or lower their level of risk tolerance, even when they do not consciously realize it. Therefore, training that is based in the softer skills of human behavior provides people a means to analyze themselves and each other.

Human behavior training that provide people with awareness, tools, and information can have an immediate and lasting impact on their overall safety, fulfillment, and motivation.

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